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Jealousy is a lot of things, but fun is not one of them. In sum, it’s this negative energy that stems from a range of emotions like fear, rage, and humiliation. And despite how much it is hated and intentionally avoided, we’ve all felt the little devil take root: from envying the best-dressed girl in school to wishing you were as smart as your colleague to growing angry when your girlfriend talks to other guys. Whatever the case, the jealousy almost always boils over, and misfortune ensues.

While it’s normal to feel envious from time to time, it can also reach an unhealthy level—which often festers in relationships and hurts both individuals. I experienced this kind of jealousy first-hand in my own relationship, only I was on the receiving end. After a few months of dating, my boyfriend grew increasingly clingy, concerned, suspicious, and protective of me—and for no good reason. I didn’t lie, I didn’t cheat, and I had never betrayed his trust. Still, he did everything in his power to keep me at arms-length 24 hours a day, to ensure that he was the light of my life and nothing else could ever be that special. At first, I found this endearing; I mean he was just showing me how much he loved me, right? Wrong. Sure, he loved me, but he was displaying extreme jealousy, which has no place in a healthy relationship.

It’s difficult to recognize this kind of envy for what it is, but it’s so important you do—if I hadn’t, I may still be in that unhealthy, controlling relationship. So, do yourself a favor and learn to spot an unhealthy level of jealousy right off the bat. Here are 5 signs that your partner’s envy has gotten completely out of control:

    1) They want you all to themselves.

    It might seem sweet at first, but if your significant other insists on spending every waking moment with you—and only you—that is a red flag. An important key to a healthy relationship is balance: that means spending time with other friends and loved ones and catering to your personal needs too. So, if they get offended when you don’t include them in every plan, that is a sign that their jealousy may be a little extreme.

    2) They always expect the worst of you.

    Does your partner constantly accuse you of cheating on them? Do they always assume that you have a hidden agenda? Do they insist on reading your text messages to make sure you’re telling the truth? These are major signs of an unhealthy level of jealousy. It’s one thing to have warranted concerns in a relationship, but it’s not okay for them to always expect the worst of you.

    3) They try to control every aspect of your life.

    Sometimes jealous partners may even become jealous of your job or your hobbies. If they start to talk negatively about your love for painting or your new position at work and insist you quit, this is likely a manifestation of their envy. They don’t want to be excluded from a beloved aspect of your life and this is their attempt to keep you closer.

    4) They tell you to act a certain way.

    Can you recall your boyfriend or girlfriend telling you to act a certain way? For example, maybe the two of you are out with some friends and your partner tells you to stop talking so much or to smile more. While this is a less obvious sign of extreme jealousy, it is a sign nonetheless. These actions show that they feel justified in controlling your actions, which may be driven by their envy.

    5) They keep tabs on you however they can.

    If your significant other is keeping a close eye on your social media and your GPS location, asking friends to verify what you’re doing, or requiring you stay in touch at all times, it is time for a serious conversation. This is unhealthy jealousy to the highest degree, and a tell-tale sign of how controlling your partner is.

If you observe any of the aforementioned behavior in your relationship, it’s time to take action. You might want to try talking to your partner about his or her jealous behavior first and see what kind of response you get; they may deny or even laugh at your accusations—or they may come around and see that their envy has gotten a little out of hand. Then, depending on their reaction, your relationship may either be salvaged or best ended right then and there.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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